Thursday, November 21, 2019

Strange Ranger, NES Mouse & Do Not Touch

Weekly Update 2019-46: Saccharine, melodic appetizers from Strange Ranger, the beauty of 8BitDo's NES Mouse and an epic music video from Studio Moniker that's a joy to watch.

Tell the music video where you're from with your cursor!

Music: Strange Ranger
I got to see one of my favourite bands on Saturday - all-girl sad-rock band Chastity Belt. Their opener, an almost all-male outfit called Strange Ranger, was a saccharine, melodic appetizer. Leaving their earlier aggressive post-rock days behind in favour of a softer, melancholic mood, their sound reminds me of growing up in the suburbs (in their case, Midwestern America) and simpler days gone by. Sometimes, all you need is something simple and uncomplicated.


Accomplishment:
I attended an extremely inspirational meetup last week hosted by VentureOut - all about Employee Resource Groups. I learned so much about how companies are championing their employees in leading the charge toward acceptance and understanding of all people and all demographics. Intelex, where the event was held, boasts nine resource groups to date. Amongst their groups for women, people of colour and so on, they also champion a group specifically dedicated to allies of all groups. I hope we can fill shoes as big as theirs someday.

Dr. Sarah Saska, founder of Feminuity, was especially inspirational in her principles that ERG leaders should have time carved out of their workday to focus on these initiatives. I sometimes struggle running the accessibility team at Vena in relation to my normal workload, and I do most of the work with the hope in mind that eventually, more people at the company will understand why accessibility is important to their work (and their lives). It's true.


IBM has over 250 ERGs globally.

What a good ERG should provide its members

Shopify has seven ERGs currently. 
Vena has only one official ERG - our Network for Women.






I had a really lovely hangout with Christine, an old coworker at EventMobi. We also included Sasha in the mix as they hadn't seen each other in over a year (and it was his birthday). We got to hear all about his new girlfriend from Japan (my favourite thing ever) and for some reason he got me a little gift (reverse birthday). Christine told us about her engagement to Josh(!) and I took them on a tour of my office.

I noted that it's going to snow something fierce overnight on Monday so I took my last chance on Sunday to bike over to High Park. It rained a little, but the fall tree colours were still in season and all the animals were out at the zoo. Such a lovely ride up and around the paved paths, though I do wish the non-paved trails were a little smoother to bike on. My bike is definitely not suited to them. And so, the trails in the northeast corner of the park still remain a mystery to me.



As a twofer, I visited a Bun to try on a dress she is attempting to trade away. It was simply beautiful but simply did not fit me in the chest. A girl can dream.



Goal:
With winter fast approaching, I really want to take my thicker-wheeled bicycle in for a tune up to start riding it after the first big snowfall.

My friend Niki is hosting a Murder Mystery party set loosely in the 1920s so I have to put an outfit together in advance of that. I thought I might find something cool on Bunz but it did let me down a little this time. Luckily I have a formal dress in the back of my closet that I've never worn, so it's time to put it on double duty for the multiple parties I have coming up. I believe it was $5 from Value Village a few years ago, so it'll be easy to get good mileage out of it.

Random Thought: NES Mouse
Never in all my days did I think I would see this kind of tech mashup. 8BitDo, a super cool gaming tech company, has somehow taken all the cool things about the original NES controller and turned them into a fully functioning, aesthetically pleasing computer mouse.

The D-pad has been moved over to the side to become a webpage operator (back and forth, page up and down) which makes perfect sense. Beyond that, the black space between the two iconic circular red buttons is actually touch-sensitive, allowing for vertical scroll. So elegantly hidden inside the experience of the mouse, I can't get over how cool this design is.


The design is the brainchild of Swedish industrial designer Daniel Jansson, whose original foam model was covered breathlessly by tech blogs way back in 2009. Ten years later, 8BitDo partnered with Jansson to bring it to life.

What I find so magnetizing about this design is its ingenuity in combining function and form, old and new. I suppose part of that comes from the simplicity in the original NES controller design, using simple shapes and only the necessary elements for easy-to-learn gameplay. A D-pad and four buttons were all that was needed to enjoy a true plethora of games.


8BitDo's N30 mouse aptly captures those memories of hours spent in front of the tube TV trying to beat that super hard level, while at the same time providing a mouse that works seamlessly with the web surfer's needs and habits. It's the best of both worlds, in a compact little thing that just fits so nicely in your hand. I might be in love.

Inspiration: Do Not Touch
I occasionally remember that music videos still exist and even more occasionally actually watch one. It's most often by chance, such as the case with this video for the song Kilo by a band called Light Light. The video is completely computer-interactive in such an interesting way. Check it out here (and then come back!).

Note the video starts with a fake tube TV frame around it.

What a cool way to bring the audience into the experience. The webpage records your cursor position while you watch the music video, and then proceeds to provide cheeky directions that you can choose to follow or not. All while you watch, a bunch of other previous visitors' cursors are also present on the screen. It gives a sort of view to the makeup of society through their actions as related to the scenes in the video itself, playing in the background of the cursors.

What a simple, yet intriguing way to utilize simple technology and allow visitors to become part of the experience. It reminds me of past projects by Arcade Fire for We Used To Wait and Real Estate for Stained Glass. I imagine I'm not alone in my lack of contact with music videos these days now that cable television is a thing of the boomer past, so it would make sense that some bands would want to push their experiences to the internet. In doing so, experience designers have so much more creative possibility with the power of code added to the artistic format of time-based media. What a cool artform!

The music video for Kilo was made by Amsterdam based interactive design studio Moniker - who have made some other equally cool projects I may include in a future post.

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